The New York Times’ David Leonhardt claims that the move by states to provide protections against voter fraud is part of “the Republican Party’s growing discomfort with democracy.” Dr. John Lott submitted the following letter to the editor in response. Of course, the New York Times didn’t publish the letter. Our research on photo voter ID rules in other countries is available here and our work on absentee ballot rules is available here.
David Leonhardt claims that different state voting rules aimed at preventing vote fraud are part of “the Republican Party’s growing discomfort with democracy” (“Why Liz Cheney Matters,” May 13, 2021). Yet, suppose these the ID and absentee ballot rules are “anti-democratic,” as Leonhardt quotes an academic claiming. In that case, all of Europe and virtually all developed countries in the world are anti-democratic.
All European countries except parts of the UK require a government-issued photo ID to vote, and the UK has introduced legislation to mandate IDs. In the US, requiring a unique ID number for absentee ballots in Georgia generated boycotts. Yet, 74% of European countries entirely ban absentee voting for citizens who reside domestically. Another 6% limit it to those hospitalized or in the military, and they require third-party verification and a photo voter ID. They don’t take people’s word for it. These countries faced the same debate over preventing vote fraud versus ease of voting.
Is the New York Times seriously claiming that countries such as Sweden and France are ‘anti-democratic”?John R. Lott, Jr.
Crime Prevention Research Center